Winning ugly, winning late. The Falcons are still 4-1.
Much like it is a fruitless endeavor trying to determine how many women Don Draper will, ahem, get to know during each season of Mad Men, attempting to crown a Super Bowl winner (cue Denny Green, circa September 2006), in Week 6 is pointless.
So much will change between now and then; injuries will mount each week for some teams, while others will only become healthy in December when the mad dash to the playoffs is in full force.
I only make this point because I've grown tired of the constant debates on television, in print, and on the Internet about whether Team X really has what it takes to win it all.
There are countless examples of a team's evolution making its October version unrecognizable from its January version, the most glaring one to come to my head being the New York Giants in 2006-7. I'll spare New Englanders further pain by halting this story in its tracks now.
From here on out, can we agree to stop trying to determine Super Bowl contenders until we know which teams make the playoffs? Okay, thanks.
(Hey Andrew, I need to step in here before this goes any further. What? Why? You do realize just last week you wrote an article passionately proclaiming the Pittsburgh Steelers were Super Bowl favorites, right? Well, sure, but that was totally different. Of course it was. Who invited you? Let's just move on.)
Anyway, if there has been one constant, dominant theme through the first 31% of the season, it would be the power of the underdog. I suppose I could just call it parity, but it really is high up on this horse and I'm going to try to create original thought.
Through five weeks, home underdogs are 19-11 against the spread and 17-13 straight up. Further, there has not been a single week when these teams combine for a record under .500.
The stat geek alert needs only to continue a bit longer. For the entire season to date, underdogs (both home and away) are a combined 47-29 ATS, 37-39 SU. Both trends, by the way, have favored the underdogs more as the season has progressed.
What does this all mean? Well, for Pick 'Em pools, etc. I would ride the hot hand of the underdog until the trends start to even out.
For other kinds of ventures dealing with point spreads, I present this information simply to show that there are moves to be made if one has the inclination to do so.
Let's see if past performance indicates future results for Week 6. Home team in CAPS, picks in bold.
Atlanta (+2.5) over PHILADELPHIA.
The Falcons seem to be that team in 2010. You know, the one that tends to win ugly and late. No one really takes them seriously until they win a game on the road no one expects them to pull off. That unexpected game, ladies and gentlemen, arrives this Sunday.
PITTSBURGH (-13.5) over Cleveland.
The honeymoon period for the Colt McCoy Era in Cleveland will last about a quarter, before Browns fans once again are resigned to life with a mediocre (at best) quarterback. Colt, I hope you have Brady Quinn's number on speed dial. You two should have a lot to discuss.
Kansas City (+4.5) over HOUSTON.
Until the Texans get their left tackle back and Andre Johnson proves to be any semblance of his normal self, I refuse to pick Houston again in 2010. Last week was an embarrassment.
Last thought on this boring game: I'm utterly confused by Matt Cassel. He was a top 10 quarterback in 2008 with Josh McDaniels as his Offensive Coordinator -- he who ran the same offensive system as Charlie Weis -- and last year everyone decided Cassel's struggles were due to learning a new system.
Now he has Charlie Weis and, in theory, the system he thrived under in New England. Yet he still stinks. He's been putrid, actually. It's gotten so bad that Chiefs fans are calling for Brodie Croyle, which isn't as bad as 49ers fans chanting for David Carr, but I digress.
TAMPA BAY (+4) over New Orleans.
I might just be bitter since the Saints blew a 10-0 lead to Max Hall. Still, it looks as if the Saints are celebrating out on Bourbon Street every Saturday night before games on Sunday. Until they show any signs of life, go the other way.
CHICAGO (-6) over Seattle.
The statistic that erases any sort of credibility the Seahawks may have coming into this game off a bye? Their two road games this year: L, 31-14 & L, 20-3. To the mighty Denver Broncos and St. Louis Rams, no less.
Baltimore (+3) over NEW ENGLAND.
I've become less confident in this pick as the week has gone along due to the numerous statistics thrown at me in favor of the Patriots.
Still, Ray Lewis can talk to Bears, and Tom Brady just got called out by Justin Bieber. ("Leave his hair to the guy who sings 'baby'"? Really? This is actually supposed to be sharp, biting criticism? Justin Bieber needs to go away.)
NY GIANTS (-10) over Detroit.
I think I'm about 0 for 500 picking the Giants this year, so no one would take me seriously trying to analyze this game anyway. Glad I took Houston in my Survivor Pool last week.
Miami (+3.5) over GREEN BAY.
I'm pleased it looks like Aaron Rodgers is playing, because either way I'm convinced the Dolphins will win this game. With Rodgers behind center, the odds for Miami get that much better. Thank you, backbone-less NFL for letting players back one week after concussions!
ST. LOUIS (+9) over San Diego.
I hate the Chargers. I have nothing else to say after that abomination in Oakland last week.
Oakland (+6.5) over SAN FRANCISCO.
Speaking of the Raiders. Why, exactly, are the 49ers getting so much respect? How many weeks can people continue to expect SF to turn the tide, only to be proven wrong? I hope it lasts a few more weeks, because I couldn't be happier to take the Raiders straight up, let alone getting 6.5.
DENVER (+3) over NY Jets.
Home underdog alert! I just have a feeling about this one. The Jets secondary is banged up, and the Broncos throw the ball all over the field. This smells like an upset to me.
MINNESOTA (-1) over Dallas.
Never has so much been said about two 1-3 football teams squaring off. I will not add to it.
Indianapolis (-3) over WASHINGTON.
The Redskins are the home underdog, but you'll never catch me going against Peyton in a night game. Unless it's the playoffs, of course. In that case sign me up.
JACKSONVILLE (+3) over Tennessee.
Home underdog in a division game on Monday night? Yes please.
Both of these teams are up and down. The Titans are coming off a good week (perfect time to pick against them) and the Jaguars are coming off a bad week (yes, I just said a 10 point win in Buffalo was a bad week. Sorry, Bills fans. All three of you must be so depressed.)
Last Week: 9-5
Season to Date: 39-34-3